Lawsuit filed on behalf of ballerina killed by drunken driver

FACEBOOK PHOTO A civil suit seeks damages in the death of ballerina Polina Kadiyska.
FACEBOOK PHOTO A civil suit seeks damages in the death of ballerina Polina Kadiyska.
Posted: August 07, 2013

ALL QUESTIONS about who is criminally responsible for the March 18, 2012, drunken-driving crash that claimed the life of a rising Bulgarian-born ballet dancer have been answered.

DeAndre Barnes, who had been celebrating his 19th birthday when the Audi he was driving struck Polina Kadiyska, 22, as she walked across Broad Street near Ellsworth in South Philadelphia, pleaded guilty Feb. 8 to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. He's serving five to 10 years in state prison.

Now, an attorney for Kadiyska's estate has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit seeking to hold Barnes and two South Philadelphia bars civilly responsible for cutting her life short.

"We think they all share in some respect for what happened here," attorney Robert L. Sachs said yesterday. "This and all lawsuits like this are about holding all who are responsible fully accountable for their actions."

In addition to Barnes, named in the suit as defendants are Kelbar Inc., the parent company of T-Barr's Bar, at 8th and Jackson streets, and Frantic Nightclub, which is owned by the American Legion Post 153, on 24th Street and Passyunk Avenue. The American Legion headquarters in Indianapolis is also being sued.

Kadiyska, a third-year student at the Rock School for Dance Education, had the right of way while crossing about 4 a.m. when Barnes' car ran a red light and struck her, the suit claims.

"Ms. Kadiyska was launched into the air and her body was thrown nearly 115 feet," according to the suit.

Barnes fled the scene but was arrested. His blood-alcohol level was .156, putting the underaged drinker at nearly twice the legal limit to drive.

Kadiyska suffered severe head and body injuries and died the next day after her parents - who traveled from Bulgaria - discontinued life support.

Sachs contends that Barnes and friends spent the hours leading up to the crash drinking at the two bars, making each defendant liable for his client's death.

The bars, however, denied that Barnes was in their establishments. Tom Barr, 77, who has owned T-Barr's Bar since 1980, said he believes the suit is an attempt to get money that he doesn't have.

"He was never here. I checked the cameras and everything. We had nothing to do with that. What do they think they're going to get out of us? We're a corner taproom," Barr, said.

"It's our understanding that he was under age, so he wasn't drinking in there," said William Carey, the adjutant of Post 153.

Of the accident, Carey said: "That's devastating. That's all I can say . . . My daughter is a ballerina. It's devastating."

The suit, filed Thursday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeks in excess of $50,000.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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